Jon Lord, the keyboardist and co-founder of Deep Purple, has died. He was 71 years old, and according to reports had been receiving treatment for pancreatic cancer since last year.
As a member of Deep Purple, Lord played on all the band’s definitive hits, including their breakout cover of Billy Joe Royal’s “Hush” (Lord’s vibey organ playing gave the song its haunting psychedelic quality) and on the iconic smash “Smoke on the Water,” which he also co-wrote.
All told, Deep Purple sold over 100 million albums worldwide, and the bulk of that business was done during Lord’s first tenure with the band, which lasted from the group’s inception in 1968 until the band collectively went on hiatus in 1976. He rejoined when the group reconstituted in 1984 and retired from the group for good in 2002.
In addition to his work with Deep Purple, Lord also worked with Whitesnake and found considerable success as a classical composer, penning a handful of well-received concertos mostly during the Deep Purple hiatus in the late ’70s.
Through his keyboard work in Deep Purple, Lord is often credited as the artist who made it reasonable for hard rock bands to incorporate strings, horns, and keys into their sounds, leading to the multiplatinum hybrid sounds of bands like Def Leppard and Bon Jovi.
In honor of Lord, check out this clip of him and the rest of Deep Purple playing “Hush” on a 1968 episode of Playboy After Dark:
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